After Effects CC Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

After Effects CC Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

Video: The six foundations of After Effects

When you think about it, After Effects breaks down into six foundational areas. So as you can see compositions and Now notice also when you have a Now with a lot of these layers, let's go ahead Now, each individual layer here in the timeline If I clicked the right arrow here, it'll move down to the right most key frame So now as I scrub through you can see that it Let's select our H+ Sport layer.
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  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 1h 5m
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files (CC 2014.1)
      1m 57s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
    4. Understanding and managing applications with Creative Cloud (CC 2014.1)
      2m 32s
    5. Which versions of After Effects CC does this course cover? (CC 2014.1)
      1m 40s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      1m 54s
    7. Working with keyboard shortcuts
      1m 23s
    8. Different ways to use After Effects
    9. Exploring the interface of After Effects (CC 2014.1)
      13m 22s
    10. Exploring the interface of After Effects
      12m 0s
    11. Exploring important preferences, and setting up the cache (CC 2014.1)
      8m 44s
    12. Exploring important preferences and setting up the cache
      6m 20s
    13. Video terminology (CC 2014.1)
      6m 19s
    14. Video terminology
      4m 24s
    15. Updating After Effects with Creative Cloud
      1m 25s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. The six foundations of After Effects
      11m 5s
    2. Understanding compositions
      10m 35s
    3. Creating and manipulating layers
      9m 49s
    4. Building animation
      6m 29s
    5. Working with effects
      7m 5s
    6. Introduction to 3D
      8m 45s
    7. Understanding how to render
      6m 48s
  4. 38m 54s
    1. Importing elements
      5m 53s
    2. Organizing projects
      3m 51s
    3. Building compositions with layers
      6m 17s
    4. Animating with keyframes
      10m 0s
    5. Adding effects and graphics
      8m 7s
    6. Output techniques
      4m 46s
  5. 44m 49s
    1. Exploring composition and project settings
      6m 48s
    2. Importing Photoshop files as compositions
      8m 39s
    3. Importing Illustrator files as compositions
      7m 41s
    4. Viewing files in the comp panel
      4m 42s
    5. Understanding Pre-compose
      4m 21s
    6. Positioning layers with snapping
      4m 55s
    7. Interpreting footage
      4m 0s
    8. Keyboard shortcuts for compositions
      3m 43s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Defining layers
      5m 4s
    2. Creating type layers
      7m 38s
    3. Precise typesetting techniques
      5m 42s
    4. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      9m 6s
    5. Creating design elements with shape layers
      6m 10s
    6. Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes
      7m 35s
    7. Using track mattes
      4m 49s
    8. Precise compositing with variable-width feathered masks
      9m 24s
    9. Working smarter by swapping layers
      7m 6s
    10. Keyboard shortcuts for layers
      2m 35s
  7. 1h 35m
    1. Understanding animation
      6m 20s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 52s
    3. Understanding keyframe interpolation (CC 2014.1)
      8m 52s
    4. Understanding keyframe interpolation
      6m 20s
    5. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      8m 26s
    6. The power of parenting
      5m 26s
    7. Using null objects
      6m 46s
    8. Creating expressions with the pick whip
      6m 25s
    9. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      9m 56s
    10. Building complex graphics with Pre-compose
      4m 54s
    11. Preparing audio for animation
      8m 57s
    12. Generating graphics with audio
      9m 13s
    13. Working smarter: Navigating the Timeline
      4m 32s
  8. 58m 59s
    1. Understanding the order of effects
      5m 58s
    2. Generating backgrounds with effects
      5m 33s
    3. Generating a scribble effect
      8m 12s
    4. Animating strokes with effects
      6m 37s
    5. Using adjustment layers
      5m 52s
    6. Adding gradients and glows
      4m 30s
    7. Saving pan and scan presets
      5m 20s
    8. Fixing exposure with Levels
      3m 5s
    9. Fixing color casts with Color Finesse 3
      9m 57s
    10. Masking individual effects
      3m 55s
  9. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding 3D in After Effects
      9m 2s
    2. Intro to cameras (CC 2014.1)
      10m 50s
    3. Intro to cameras
      7m 51s
    4. Intro to lights and material options
      8m 56s
    5. Animating cameras (CC 2014.1)
      11m 11s
    6. Animating cameras
      12m 39s
    7. Creating depth of field
      6m 48s
    8. Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
      10m 8s
  10. 3h 40m
    1. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects (CC 2014.1)
      1m 53s
    2. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects
      1m 32s
    3. 3D foundations (CC 2014.1)
      9m 49s
    4. 3D foundations
      10m 43s
    5. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects (CC 2014.1)
      7m 14s
    6. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects
      8m 9s
    7. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface (CC 2014.1)
      9m 49s
    8. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface
      7m 31s
    9. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files (CC 2014.1)
      7m 20s
    10. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
      7m 28s
    11. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      11m 7s
    12. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite
      8m 8s
    13. Applying deformers (CC 2014.1)
      4m 50s
    14. Applying deformers
      5m 59s
    15. Understanding materials (CC 2014.1)
      10m 29s
    16. Understanding materials
      7m 32s
    17. Lighting your scene (CC 2014.1)
      11m 20s
    18. Lighting your scene
      8m 14s
    19. Looking at detailed materials
      7m 51s
    20. Working with presets (materials and lights) (CC 2014.1)
      7m 44s
    21. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      5m 52s
    22. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite
      6m 51s
    23. Adjusting keyframes in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      7m 42s
    24. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      5m 49s
    25. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite
      5m 45s
    26. Working with CINEWARE (CC 2014.1)
      8m 11s
    27. Working with CINEWARE
      9m 38s
    28. Render settings and the multipass workflow (CC 2014.1)
      7m 28s
    29. Render settings and the multipass workflow
      8m 38s
  11. 23m 35s
    1. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      4m 45s
    2. Recommended settings for rendering graphics
      10m 21s
    3. Creating presets in the Render Queue
      4m 0s
    4. Prerendering with Import and Replace Usage
      3m 18s
    5. Working smarter: One render, multiple outputs
      1m 11s
  12. 36m 53s
    1. Creating type animators
      8m 52s
    2. Creating and animating type on a path
      5m 32s
    3. Animating shape layers
      8m 45s
    4. Animating brushstrokes with Paint
      5m 54s
    5. Animating text and prepairing templates for use in Premiere Pro (CC 2014.1)
      7m 50s
  13. 23m 31s
    1. Retiming with Time Remapping
      8m 56s
    2. Retiming footage with Timewarp
      9m 10s
    3. Smoothing shaky camera footage with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      5m 25s
  14. 16m 6s
    1. Getting started with Keylight
      8m 43s
    2. Refining your key with Keylight
      3m 42s
    3. Cleaning up keys with masks
      3m 41s
  15. 26m 47s
    1. Rotoscoping with paths
      6m 47s
    2. Introducing the Roto Brush
      5m 58s
    3. Refining the Roto Brush
      6m 12s
    4. Using the Refine Edge tool
      7m 50s
  16. 27m 13s
    1. Creating a single point track
      7m 38s
    2. Applying motion with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      4m 29s
    3. Warp Stabilizer VFX: Reversible Stabilization workflow
      7m 47s
    4. Solving cameras
      7m 19s
  17. 6m 30s
    1. Archiving your projects
      3m 50s
    2. Removing unused footage
      1m 25s
    3. Moving compositions between projects in After Effects
      1m 15s
  18. 2m 24s
    1. What's next?
      2m 24s

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After Effects CC Tutorials | Essential Training
14h 52m Appropriate for all Jun 17, 2013 Updated Nov 03, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Delve into the world of motion graphics, keying, and compositing in After Effects CC. In this course, Ian Robinson lays out six foundations for becoming proficient with After Effects, including concepts such as layers, keyframe animation, and working with 3D. To help you get up and running with the program, the course begins with a project-based chapter on creating an animated graphic bumper. Next, explore the role layers play in compositions and find out how to add style to your projects using effects and graphic elements. Last, see how to build 3D objects with CINEMA 4D Lite, as well as stabilize footage, solve for 3D cameras, and paint in graphics with the Reverse Stabilization feature.

Topics include:
  • Video terminology
  • Creating your first composition
  • Using layers, masks, blend modes, and track mattes
  • Parenting objects
  • Building complex objects with Pre-compose
  • Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
  • Understanding the order of effects
  • Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
  • Lighting a scene
  • Animating type on a path
  • Using Keylight for green-screen footage
  • Rotoscoping
  • Archiving projects
After Effects
Ian Robinson

The six foundations of After Effects

When you think about it, After Effects breaks down into six foundational areas. In this video, we'll list those areas and go through a basic overview of each. I just want you to watch and listen, as I want you to focus primarily on remembering each of these six foundations. This list is in no particular order, because no one function is more important than any other. In many cases these foundations overlap so enough talking let's get started with compositions. If you look at our project panel you can see I've already got two compositions that I have organized in my aaa output coms folder.

Let's double-click on the Training Swoosh Comb, just to make sure we are on the right composition. Now, I'd like to think of compositions as kind of a container. Any time you import something into After Effects, if you want to create a new graphic with that element, you need to put it into a composition. You can also think of compositions kind of like sequences in Premiere. There are a couple of different ways you can create comps inside of After Effects. The easiest is to go up under Composition and say New Composition.

When you do that, we have Presets so you can just click on the pull down and choose any one of these presets, depending upon the kind of resolution that you're working in. I'll just move this up a little bit here. Just want to click on the Presets here now you can see them all, kay? An easier way of setting up your comp settings instead of creating it from scratch is by using a piece of footage. So if we go down to our Video Settings, or our Video Folder, in our Project Panel. Open that folder up just by clicking on the triangle to its left.

Now when I click on this Quicktime file, I want you to notice in the project panel, I am getting a preview and it's telling me the resolution of that file as well as the duration and the frame rate and the codec that its using. So, if I were to create a project based on this setting, all I have to do is just click on this Video File and drag it right down to the new composition button here at the bottom of the project panel. When I let go, it's automatically going to create a composition that I can scrub through and it's going to be setup properly to the size and resolution of my background video.

Now to close a composition, you can close it here in the timeline by clicking the X button. Then it just goes to open up any other composition that you had open. So notice the 3D logo compositions open in my timeline so that's what I'm seeing here in my composition panel. If I click on my training swoosh timeline now that's open in my composition panel. So as you can see compositions and the timeline panel have a symbiotic relationship. Whatever's happening in one is also kind of happening in the other.

That being said if you look in the timeline panel we have layers. And that is the second of our six foundations layers. Layers are used to actually create the visibility of your graphic elements in your project. Now the visibility of layers can be determined both vertically, as in the stack order, was in the timeline here. Or horizontally, in terms of when they would appear in the project, based over time. So if I move my current time indicator back to about two seconds, you can see I have none of my graphics on the screen.

If I scroll down here in my timeline, I'm just scrolling with my mouse wheel. I could also just click the arrow buttons here on the bottom of my timeline. If we scroll down here, you can see, let's see, let's select the layer number eight, medium pluses. Kay? If I move my current time indicator down to when we see the pluses, you can see when they fade into the scene. Now notice also when you have a layer selected you can see whatever layer's selected here in the composition panel, because those are giving me the control handles for that layer.

You can have many different kinds of layers, and After Effects. Notice this is a Photoshop layer. This is an Illustrator layer. This is what's known as a Shape layer, and this is what's known as a Text layer. Now with a lot of these layers, let's go ahead and click on the H+ Sport ai Layer, layer number five. If you right click or Ctrl click on that layer, you can choose Reveal Layer Source in Project. Now when I choose that, it's automatically going to show me the layer up here in the project panel. Now as you can see the layers are determining what graphic elements are visible here in my project.

But notice there's movement on some of these elements, like these pluses here. If I go ahead and just click on this plus in the project panel, you can see this is the extra large plusses layer. Now, each individual layer here in the timeline has a disclosure triangle to the left of it. So if you go ahead and click on that triangle, you can see I have different options for that layer. Now, if we open up the transform options, you can see I have a number of different parameters that I have access to. And this leads me to the next foundational element, animation.

Notice I have these stopwatch icons to the left of each one of these names. But notice when I get to scale at opacity stopwatch is selected and I have these arrows over here on the left hand side. These arrows allow me to navigate the timeline just by clicking on the arrows. And they're moving between different keyframes. So if we look in the timeline here, see these things that look like diamonds? These are keyframes and keyframes record animation. So I've got a keyframe for the scale, if I go ahead and click this left arrow here to move my current time indicator directly on top of that keyframe.

You can see the scale is at 100% at two seconds 23 frames. If I clicked the right arrow here, it'll move down to the right most key frame for my scale parameter and now you can see it's scaled up to 125%. Animation is something that you can create by adding keyframes to elements here in the timeline. Now, there's another way to affect elements that are in the timeline or layers in the timeline and that's with effects.

So let's go ahead and select layer 13 here. Now I just want to look only at layer 13, so I'm going to move over here to the left side of my timeline. And notice I have an icon for an eyeball, which is the visibility. I have an icon for audio. And then, the next square over, if we click that, that's going to go ahead and just solo this one layer. It's just showing me the only thing that's on that layer. So now as I scrub through you can see that it doesn't look like there is much happening here on this layer. But if we move over to the right you can see this fx button.

That's letting me know that I have an effect applied to this layer. If we turn that effect off and on you can see it's not really effecting that much. Well let's see if we can see what the parameters are. If we open up the options for layer 13, notice now I have a set of options for effects. If I open that up, you can see I have a fast blur that's applied to this element. And if we open up it's options, you can see the two keyframes that make up that blur. So the effect really isn't happening until further down the timeline down here after nine seconds.

So now if I toggle the visibility off and on, you can see the difference between the effect being applied or the effect not being applied. Now if I go up under the window menu, there is an option for my effect controls. If we go ahead and select that, you can see my effect controls also give me a sure, quick easy way to actually add keyframes and set parameters for the different effects. Now, there are two more elements that make up the six foundation. 3D and rendering.

Now, I want to turn solo off for my background video layer, here. And, let's move back to around six seconds. Let's select our H+ Sport layer. Notice how I have these three arrows that have appeared over top of that layer. That's letting me know that this actually exists in 3D space. Those are Control Handles, so I hover my mouse over each one of the control handles, I can click and move, and make sure that I'm moving specifically on the axis that I'm clicking on top of.

Okay? Now if I open up the options for layer five here, and go to my transform options, notice for positions I have X, Y, and Z. If we scroll up and just select layer three, for example, and open up its options under transform, notice position just has x, y. That's because this layer only exists in 2D space. To enable 3D for this layer, I would need to enable 3D by selecting the Enable 3D option, here. Now notice I'm not seeing anything in my composition panel.

That's because this layer doesn't even exist until eight seconds. So if I move down the timeline to eight seconds, here you can see the layer that's actually been selected. It's this plus symbol, for training plus. You can also extrude 3D elements. If we click here on our 3D logo composition, notice I have a true 3D element that's been created. That was created based off this cinema 4D file. Now you can extrude text elements natively inside of After Effects or you can actually create 3D elements using the cinema 4D plug in, Cinema 4D light.

Now the last most important of the six foundations, rendering. Once you've actually created an animation, you want to share it with other people. So, in order to do that, you need to actually generate, or render, an external file that other computers can see without necessarily having to open the After Effect Project. So if you want to render something, all you have to do is make sure the timeline is active for the composition you want to go ahead and render, and then go up under Composition and choose Add to Render Queue. When we go to the render queue, this is where we can specify the different settings for the video file that we'll go ahead and render.

Now the default settings for the render queue are set up with an output module set to lossless, which on a Mac creates a lossless Quicktime file, usually the animation codec. And on windows it creates a loss less windows media file. All I have to do is click next to output two on this yellow text and I can specify the name of the file and where I'd like to send it. So once I click render it will go ahead and render the composition and animation thus creating your final external file.

Now I know that was a fair amount of information. But if you can remember compositions, layers, animation, effects, 3D, and rendering you'll have all your bases covered as you continue working in After Effects.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects CC Essential Training .

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Q: This course was updated on 6/18/2014. What changed?
A: We added new movies to the "Fundamentals of After Effects" chapter, reorganized and re-recorded the "Up and Running" and "Keying Green Screen Footage" chapters, and added new movies on Color Finesse 3 and masking individual effects.
Q: When I try to open a project file, After Effects tells me I need to update my system, since the file was made with version 13.0. But I already installed the most recent After Effects update. Why can't I open the project?
A: In the latest round of updates, Adobe chose to create a completely new installer for this latest version. While you may have updated the version of After Effects CC you have installed (12.x), there is an entirely new After Effects install for 2014 (13.0). Check for an After Effects CC (2014) item in the Creative Cloud app and download and install it from there. 
After you install the new version, you should be able to open 13.0 projects. After Effects CC (2014) will coexist with the older version of After Effects on your machine. If you currently have any shortcuts on your computer to launch After Effects, you may have to go back into the Programs folder and create a new shortcut to the newer version, After Effects 2014.
Q: This course was updated on 11/03/2014. What changed?
A: We updated 25 movies to reflect changes to the Creative Cloud 2014 release of After Effects. This includes the new optimized user interface and enhanced Cineware and CINEMA 4D Lite pipeline. The new movies are labeled with the "(CC 2014.1)" tag.
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